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Loan gives Kate a life-changing family addition

18 October 2017

Bella is a companion puppy that is helping her owner combat social isolation and improve her mental health

For many years, Kate’s doctors had been urging her to get a companion animal to combat her social isolation and improve her mental health.

It wasn’t until she was referred to The Salvation Army’s Moneycare Financial Counselling No-Interest-Loan service that she was finally able to take their advice.

Kate* has a lot of health issues and self-isolates. Some days she finds it difficult to get out of bed. Her psychiatrist and doctors encouraged her to get a pet

“The doctors wanted me to have an animal so I would have some responsibility and get out of bed, because I tend to isolate a lot which isn’t good for my mental health,” she says. “They said if I had an animal, especially a dog, it would be good because I’d have to take it for walks and things like that. They were hoping that I’d do that and socialise with people to pull me out of my depression a bit.”

Initially Kate was reluctant, fearful that she wouldn’t have the capacity to look after a pet, but last year she took the brave decision to look into buying a dog. However, Kate soon discovered that the cost of purchasing an appropriate dog, plus vaccinations, on her disability support pension income would be too much of a strain.

“After all the research and speaking to the people who were selling the puppy, I sort of got a bit happy and looking forward to it. I think I would have been a little bit heartbroken if I didn’t get the loan from The Salvation Army because I’d worked myself into wanting a puppy finally after all these years.”

Kate’s support worker had referred her to The Salvation Army’s free financial counselling service, Moneycare, which also offers NILS – a No Interest Loans Scheme. Moneycare Financial Counsellor, Ross Norgate, says it was the first time the service had received a loan request for a companion animal.

“We worked through a budget with Kate, as we do with all NILS clients, to make sure that we weren’t putting her into any financial hardship with this extra fortnightly repayment for what is effectively about 15 months of repayments to repay the $1500 loan.

“Although this was quite a unique request, we thought it was a really good purpose for a loan. What we’re all about is trying to help people with essential items to improve their wellbeing and it was felt that this was a really positive thing for Kate.”

Kate has settled into life with her puppy, Bella. They have been through puppy training school, and Kate hopes that Bella will enable her to connect with people in the community. “I’m hoping that Bella will make me more social. Get me out of bed and get me out of my unit and take me to the dog parks, where I can socialise with people.

“I tend to isolate a lot and I also tend to lie in bed a lot as well. But with Bella, I can’t do that as often because she likes a lot of attention. She is so cute and she gives me a lot of love.”

Do you need help managing your finances or accessing a No Interest Loan? Contact our Moneycare team.

By Lauren Martin

*Name changed

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